New Blogger, More Bolton, and Other News


Good morning, everyone.
Joining our cast of bloggers today is Leon Hadar, a research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, a journalist, a professor, and a gentleman. Leon is the author of the just published Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).”
Overnight, AP’s Liz Sidoti reported on Senator Biden’s request for information on whether Bolton testified before the Fitzgerald grand jury, providing significant exposure to the story (Google News shows around 150 newspapers picked it up). Hidden in the bowels of Sidoti’s piece was a bit of new information – Representative Jane Harman is looking into the production of the State Department memoranda that identified Wilson’s wife:

California Rep. Jane Harman, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has asked the State Department for two different versions of the memo from its bureau of intelligence and research that discussed Plame, a congressional aide said. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because of the investigation’s sensitivity.
The memo could have been the way someone in the White House learned and then leaked the information that Plame worked for the CIA and played a role in sending Wilson to Africa to explore whether Iraq was interested in obtaining uranium from Niger for nuclear weapons.

The background on the memos is muddled. One version, produced on June 10th, 2003, was analyzed last week by Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post, and two weeks ago by Richard Stevenson in the NYT. The Post reported that INR’s Carl Ford reprinted the memo for Colin Powell right after Joe Wilson’s editorial was published. It’s not clear if there were any other changes to the memo.
The memo(s) raise several important questions:

  • Who asked for it prior to June 10th? The 6/10 memo was addressed to Marc Grossman, then the under secretary of state for political affairs, but it’s not clear that he was the person who asked for the memo.
  • Who produced the memo? No one within State has claimed authorship of the document.
  • Was the document accurate? The CIA has consistently denied that Plame sent Wilson to Niger, and there is evidence to suggest that the memo(s) were based on notes taken by a person who was not in the room at the time the decision to send Wilson was made. Without seeing the text of the State memo or knowing how and when they were produced, it’s impossible to judge the merits of these claims.
  • Who saw the memo after it was produced, and when? At this point, the White House claims that the June 10th memo was not sent to the White House, and that the July 6 version was sent to Air Force 1 and played no role in Rove’s leaking of Plame’s identity. The custody chain of the memos needs to be followed.

In other interesting news, the Denver Post reports former EPA chief Christie Whitman critiquing political polarization and giving her own party a tongue lashing:

As a result, merely demonstrating a willingness to discuss embryonic stem-cell research or same-sex marriage gets GOP politicians like Whitman ostracized or labeled a RINO, or “Republican in name only,” she told The Denver Post before her talk Tuesday at the Aspen Institute’s summer speaker series.
“They believe you’re either 100 percent with us or you’re the enemy. You’re not just against us; you’re evil, and we need to take you out,” Whitman said.
While the Democrats have the same pressures from the left, she said the GOP is pulled more visibly toward the right wing because “the levers of control are in the hands of people who have a much more narrow definition of what it means to be a Republican than I grew up with.”

[via ProgressNow]
Also of note, AP’s Barry Schweid reports that Sandy Berger and Brent Scowcroft have released a report for the Council on Foreign Relations criticizing the administration’s planning for the post-war period.
— Dave Meyer